Nordstrom Local, the retailer's merchandise-free concept, is expanding with a new location in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Brentwood opening Friday and another in Downtown L.A. opening Oct. 12.
The 1,200-square-foot Brentwood store, described as having a feminine ambiance, will focus on styling and alterations, according to a company press release emailed to Retail Dive. The 2,200-square-foot downtown store, with a more industrial interior and grab-and-go food, will offer on-site concierge and barber services through Baxter of California, and shoe, handbag and luggage repair from a local cobbler. Both will be furnished by Anthropologie Home and offer dry cleaning services.
At the same time, the retailer has unveiled a new "Get It Fast" option through its app for certain areas of the city, Nordstrom said. The feature provides a real-time view of available inventory, and customers can choose in-store pickup or free next-day shipping from a Nordstrom or Nordstrom Local store.
In the early days of e-commerce, showrooming was the bane of most retailers' existence, as shoppers went to stores to evaluate merchandise but buy it elsewhere (usually for less) online.
Those days are evolving for most major retailers, and not just because prices and sales between the channels are better aligned, but also because Bonobos, Nordstrom Local and others have seized the concept for themselves, and taken it to an art form. Los Angeles is already a strong market for the department store, making it an ideal place for further experimentation.
"Los Angeles is one of our most highly-engaged markets, with roughly four million active customers," Jamie Nordstrom, president of stores, said in a statement. "Our customers have told us they want to shop where, how and when they choose. One of our goals with Nordstrom Local is to help provide them with a seamless and convenient experience, bringing services like in-store pick up of online orders, alterations, personal styling and more right to their neighborhood."
Co-president Blake Nordstrom last month told analysts that the effort in Los Angeles reflects the company's efforts to localize both on and offline, calling that "a cornerstone of how we will win with customers."
"When customers engage with us across stores and online, on average they spend five times more, and profitability per customer doubles," he said, according to Seeking Alpha's transcript of Nordstrom's second quarter conference call. "Through our focus on our top markets, we’re combining the scale of our national infrastructure with our local assets of people, product and place to drive increased customer engagement and gain market share."
GlobalData Retail Managing Director Neil Saunders believes it could work. "Nordstrom has worked hard to create as seamless a shopping process as possible, including the introduction of Nordstrom Local stores, and this is paying dividends," he said in comments emailed to Retail Dive earlier this year. "Its advanced thinking gives Nordstrom a significant opportunity to further improve the shopping experience across all channels and bolster its share. ... It is certainly benefitting from the strong consumer economy, but it is also helping itself to superior growth."